In a recent column for Golf Australia Magazine, journalist Rod Morri challenged the continued use of the term “Ladies Tee” to describe the forward tee markers at some clubs. He proposed a powerful and confronting thought experiment: imagine if you swap the word “Ladies” for a different identifier of people – how would that sound? When applying the same treatment to other groups, some may find it offensive.
The opposing argument might point out that the middle and back tees are sometimes called the “Men’s Tees”. What’s the problem? Well, that fails to acknowledge that many women and girls are more than capable of outplaying less-skilled men from the same tees. And conversely many older, beginner or less skilled men would find golf more enjoyable if they played off the forward tees.
Also, claiming the middle and back tees as the “Men’s Tees” somehow implies that men are the default? And consider at least the choice of the word “Ladies” instead of “Women” – golfing men aren’t required to live up to the lofty standards of a “Gentleman” but women who play golf must behave as “Ladies”?
It’s time for all Australian clubs to get on board with gender-neutral tee names. Using colours is fine. Even better, it’s common in Scandinavian countries to use the length of the course as the tee markers. (e.g., the “59” tees denote the 5,900-yard course, the “62” tees are the 6,200-yard course and so on). This encourages players to simply choose the tees that are best suited to their skill level – the only logical way to choose a tee.
Under the changes that were introduced with the World Handicap System (WHS), all clubs are able to have every tee marker rated for men and women. Also, the changes to the Daily Handicap calculation levels the playing field for men and women competing in the same competition off different tees. The WHS calculations for Daily Handicaps and Net scores take care of everything so that 36pts beats 35pts regardless of gender or tees.
MSL’s golf product – PPG – supports the mixed-gender option as its default setting for new competitions. The only obstacles that are preventing more inclusive and enjoyable competitions aren’t system-level they’re systemic.
By Adrian Logue – MSL Solutions